Voters rank NHS as a top priority determining who they will support in May, plus the rest of the day’s news and comment

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16.46pm An interesting story has been published by our sister title Local Government Chronicle. The first affects the NHS’ former colleagues from public health. Some public health workers in local government are stuck in pay “limbo” after being denied the increases awarded to both council and NHS colleagues following their transfer out of the health service, according to LGC.

Staff working in the public health functions that transferred from the NHS to local authorities on 1 April 2013 made the switch with their existing NHS pay and conditions.

However, changes to Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), which came into effect in January last year, mean that while an incoming employer is bound by the collective agreement in force at the time of the staff transfer, it is no longer necessarily bound by any changes agreed by the outgoing employer after the date of transfer.

As a result of this ‘static’ TUPE approach, councils do not have to give public health workers any pay increases awarded to their NHS colleagues after the transfer. In 2014, some NHS staff received a 1% non-consolidated pay rise and some an incremental pay rise.

14.28pm The University of Sheffield’s Medical School has announced a forum for women who want to overcome personal and workplace barriers to lead successful careers in medicine.

Hosted by the Sheffield Women in Medicine Network, the event aims to be a “unique opportunity for women to hear personal stories from a diverse group of successful entrepreneurs and share experiences”.

More than half of all new medical students are female and 40 per cent of all doctors are women, yet few women hold top positions on NHS boards or as medical directors, the network claims.

The meeting is due to be held on Tuesday, 3 March. More details are available at: or by following @SheffieldSWiM on twitter.

12.47pm Here’s another story we’ve posted today: Nine South West trusts have embarked on an initiative to cut the cost of hiring locum doctors, which it hopes will be a “blueprint” for the health service across the country.

The trusts, working under the name South West Consortium, are carrying out a collaborative tender process to find a single supplier of locum doctors.

The acute providers, led by Plymouth Hospitals Trust, intend to use their collective purchasing power in an effort to “manage” the local market in locum agencies and bring costs under control.

12.10pm Former NHS chief executive David Nicholson argues today in this piece that greater innovation in healthcare will mean taking a more global view of the use of new technologies

In my 36 years working for the NHS – the final eight of those spent at the helm – we have witnessed, encouraged and introduced innovation and new technologies, making sure they spread at pace and scale throughout the organisation.

But these are shaky times for the NHS, he says; it needs to be able to continue to offer a sustainable, high quality service for the next five, 10, 20 years.

11.54am Plans to reshape services at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust have been unveiled, our news story reveals.

The Better Care Together strategy, produced by the trust and Lancashire North and Cumbria clinical commissioning groups, is designed to move Morecambe Bay towards clinical sustainability and to close an underlying financial gap of £26.3m.

The plan recommends that inpatient elective surgery at Westmorland General Hospital is transferred to Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Furness General Hospital over two to three years to improve quality and outcomes.

11.32am Here’s the Daily Mail’s take on a story appearing in several of the national papers today. Around a quarter of new cases of psychotic mental illness can be blamed on super-strength strains of cannabis, according to new research.

The potent form of the drug known as ‘skunk’ is so powerful that users are three times more likely to have a psychotic episode than those who have never tried it.

These claims come from a report by the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.

11.24am Another story just posted: three hospital trusts have taken a significant step forward in developing a pioneering electronic patient records system, which could be a blueprint for other NHS providers.

Taunton and Somerset Foundation Trust, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust have established a community interest company to be the host organisation for a new open source patient records system.

The three organisations will all use the same open source electronic records system, OpenMAXIMS, provided by IT vendor IMS Maxims.

11.02am A story from the south west region now. The leader of a Devon trust has warned that local influence over how a number of its community hospitals are used will lessen if it loses possession of the sites.

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust has said that the decision of commissioners to name another trust as the preferred provider of a £100m community service contract will mean it will have to give up ownership of some of its community hospitals.

Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s decision to name Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust as the preferred provider of the contract prompted an official complaint by Northern Devon Healthcare, the incumbent

10.56am Also in the Daily Telegraph, care minister Norman Lamb has called for a “fundamental overall” of home help services, after an investigation found more than half a million visits that lasted less than five minutes each.

The figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The Telegraph says they show a rising number of council checks on the elderly and the disabled are taking place in a matter of minutes.

Charities have raised fears that vulnerable pensioners are being neglected and are being forced to choose between being washed or fed.

10.32am It’s a bad news day for private outsourcing companies, according to one story in the Daily Telegraph today.

Labour’s top policy chief has suggested that private firms could be stripped of billions of pounds’ worth of government contracts, the paper claims.

Jon Cruddas, who is writing Labour’s general election manifesto, has said there should be “no more outsourcing” of public service to firms making money rather than achieving a “social purpose”.

10.13am A story from the nationals now. The Ind rependenteports that dozens of NHS hospitals are breaching guidelines by allowing private parking firms to keep a slice of the money they raise from issuing penalty tickets to patients.

The claim is due to be made in Dispatches on Channel 4 tonight at 8pm.

According to the Independent, four trusts will be revealed as having ignored guidance on car parking charges issued by health secretary Jeremy Hunt last August.

9.29am Our poll is also good news for Ed Miliband’s party. The latest HSJ/FTI Consulting pre-election poll found the public increasingly trust Labour to manage the NHS, and support the policies unveiled last month in the party’s 10 year vision for the service,

The growth in support for Labour comes after a month of well-publicised performance challenges for the service, and concentrated campaigning on the NHS by the party.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live.

The NHS looks set to become a defining issue at this year’s general election, with voters ranking it as a top priority determining who they will support, according to HSJ’s latest pre-election poll.

The joint HSJ/FTI Consulting survey also suggests that in marginal constituencies, the NHS is a more salient issue among undecided voters than those who had made up their minds.